Friday, October 06, 2006

AW Chain Seven

AW Chain Seven.

Key word taken from The Road Less Traveled: Mushroom, or What I Ate For Dinner Tonight.

Peggy mentioned comfort food...this could have so easily gone back to chocolate. And believe me I ran through all those chocolate stories in my mind, imagined all the bon bons and melties I could eat and call it research, but in the end I went for the mushroom. I think the mushroom needs a little PR.

The first time I ever ate a mushroom was when I came to Japan. I was in my fourth year at university, and that was the first time I ever partook in a mushroom. You see up until then I thought mushrooms were those poisonous things that when found on pizza were always quickly removed, squashed in a paper towel and promptly disposed of. Not only that, but I believed there was one variety.

It's starting to cool off somewhat. And that's all I need to fix one of my most favorite foods, hot pot! (As an aside, I took Chinese for something like four years and "hot pot" is the only word I can still say in that language. Everything else has simply vanished. But "huo guo", nope, that still stays with me. I figure it must be fate. I believe not only in people-fate...but food-fate as well. "I was meant to eat that cheesecake, really.")

How to make hot pot/huo guo/nabe:

You take a giant clay pot or one of these fancy new electric ones that allow you cook on your table, and fill it with water, a dash of dashi--a kind of fish stock (that sounds worse than it is) and heat that puppy up. Next you chop up various vegetables: Chinese cabbage, long onion, all sorts of mushrooms (enoki, shiitake, shimeji) etc. Another common ingredient is konyaku, a gelatin-like, non-tasting-like, fishy smelling-like food stuff. Here is the kind I use.

aw 7 konyaku

Konyaku is usually dark grey. The above is white (not so stinky) and tied in a knot. Plus it looks cool and feels freaky when you bite it.

Here is what the veggies look like all chopped up

aw 7 namayasai

For meat you can use either the super thin slices of pork or beef they sell or these chicken and vegetable meatballs that I often get. Look! I put four cans of beer on top of my meatballs and they got smooshed. Luckily they're raw and shape right back up with a little help from a spoon.

aw7 meatballs

Stick all that into the hot pot and wait for it to cook. Bubble-bubble, steam-steam.

aw7 nabe

Now, you're all thinking, but it has no flavor save that fish stock stuff you mentioned. And you'd be right!

This is where it gets fun. They sell dipping sauces! The two main ones are goma, a sesame sauce or ponzu, a citrusy sauce. Aside from a bowl of rice to eat with the hot pot (nabe in Japanese, btw) you get a couple little bowls to fill with one or both of the dipping sauces. Retrieve whatever it is from the pot you got a hankerin' for, dunk it and eat!

Now, I'm a die hard ponzu nut. Here is my little bowl and chopsticks. Notice the meatball isn't exactly round. Yea, sorry about that. Look at all them 'shrooms.

aw 7 ponzu

J is a goma/sesame nut. So here he is eating his freshly dipped enoki.

aw 7 j and mushroom

Mushrooms are pretty big here, I guess. They even have their own theme song. I'm not kidding. A year or so ago some company came out with this commercial and it just took off. There have been a whole string of commercials as well as dolls, cell phone straps; everyone sings the song. You can't help it, when you go into the grocery store there is usually a cassette player playing it at the mushroom department. It's probably a kind of brain washing. But I suppose in a good way. Rather that than, eat more gummies, by the handful yea!

So, what did you have for supper tonight? And I better not hear, a hanful of gummies.

Now, you may all scamper off to Atomic Bear at Beyond the Great Chimney Production Log because he's so cool, and well...he's next!


Razib Ahmed said...

Speaking of Mushroom, I think Japanese people are crazy for Matsutake Mushroom and they are expensive too. HOw is it?

jean said...

You know I cook Jap. food basically every night but I've never made nabe. Never. You've got me inspired to have a go at it! And Michelle said she'd give me her nabe pot, too. Thanks for the cooking tips, Kappa gal!

Bk30 said...

okay those things that looked like that a mushroom? as for the theme song it worked for rasins why not mushrooms? lol

Harbormaster said...

This chain has produced a wonderful shift of topics. Food! Some great ideas as well!

Peggy said...

You were truly deprived growing up if all you had were those soggy pizza mushrooms. The hot pot looks tasty. I wish they sold dipping sauces at my local supermarket.

Kappa no He said...

Razib: Oh, gee, I forgot the King of 'shrooms. Thanks for reminding me. I saw two at my local supermarket that were going for sixty bucks! Hence, they weren't put in my nabe.

Jean: Man, it's so easy and lasts for at least two meals (or maybe not with little R-babe around?). You know, I still can't make a competent scone.

bk30: I forgot all about the raisins. I have just come to conclusion every veggetable needs its own theme song and ad campaign.

harbormaster: Boy, I talk about food a lot.

Peggy: My mom has a 'thing' about mushrooms and spinach and green peppers and...

Kappa no He said...

OH! bk! the rolled things are called kiritampo, they're made from rice actually. They're used a lot up north. I learned last night if you boil them too long they disentigrate. Oops.

Anonymous said...

Those dishes looked amazing - very tasting and interesting. I'd love to try them

Thanks for sharing your meal (well not literally, more is the shame)

Gillian said...

Mushrooms get me dreaming of hobbitfood. I love them too. Not shiitake though. For some reason I have never warmed to it except as a flavour-underlay for soup.

Anonymous said...


Mushrooms. Not exactly my ... favorite food. Though I will admit the only mushrooms I've really eaten are the pizza kind and the shishkabob kind.

Seriously though, it looks really cool. I suppose that counts for something. Heh.

Tim said...

Man, I love Japanese food. It's super clean, in fact it makes me feel clean after eating it. Even my teeth feel clean.

Simran said...

Cool, Japanese food. I have a friend from Japan who is now living here in the States and I'm sure probably misses home cooked food. I'll have to make some now as a gift.


Merry said...

That looks amazing!

I try to sneak mushrooms into Matt's food but he gets mad.

Cath Smith said...

Reading all these posts back to back is making me hungry.

I love mushrooms, any kind (as long as they're not poisonous or hallucanagenic anyway). :)

-Kelly M. said...

I haven't had lunch yet, and that looks amazing. I wonder if I have a menu for Japanese take out. There's a restaurant right down the street....

Great post. :)